Small IS Beautiful
THE SMITHSONIAN Institution adds very few machines to its collection nowadays. Let's face it, the collection is pretty impressive as it is, and the museum suffers the same financial restraints as do others around the world.
But there was no hesitation in doing a deal for this three-quarter-size Wheeler & Wilson built specially for Mrs General Tom Thumb, wife of the star of the Barnum & Bailey Circus in the 1860s.
The machine, apart from its size, is conventional but the cabinet is painted in oils all around.
It may well have been a wedding present for the couple, as the picture on the rear shows them being married two miniature figures dwarfed by the guests.
The front of the cabinet shows Tom and his wife in patriotic poses taken from their circus act. GF